Azharullah shines as a last eight place is booked

Muhammad Azharullah was in the wickets again in Cardiff
Muhammad Azharullah was in the wickets again in Cardiff
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A place in the last eight of the Friends Life t20 was up for grabs for Northamptonshire in Cardiff this evening and all went to plan as they got the better of Glamorgan by six wickets.

It could be enough to secure them a home tie, that’s something a victory against Worcestershire next Tuesday will guarantee, but that can wait.

For now, they can bask in the knowledge of a job well done and it was their attack, and one of them in particular, who should be given the credit.

If I had anything to do with it I’d lock Muhammad Azharullah in a room until he put his signature to a new contract.

The Pakistani seamer has been an unqualified success since arriving at the County Ground almost out of nowhere - the northern leagues to be precise - and he was again to the fore in the principality.

Bowling full and straight, as he always does, he picked up the remarkable figures of 4-16 from his four-over allocation and was the principal reason why Glamorgan were restricted to a total that barely exceeded six an over.

There were other factors of course, one being the clever use of his attack by Alex Wakely works on the principle that constant shuffling is the best method and the second being a Glamorgan line-up who simply lost their way.

At 71-2 after 10 overs with Chris Cooke going strongly, a score of 150 plus looked on the cards but the next six overs only yielded 31 runs and that effectively put the brakes on.

Marcus North was the main culprit as the Australian used up 15 deliveries for a turgid seven and once he and Cooke, who made an excellent 50, went, the rest were unable to regain the initiative.

It has all started promisingly for the hosts with Mark Wallace and Cooke scoring freely, the latter twice clearing the ropes on the leg-side but as is often the case in a format where consolidation isn’t really a viable option, wickets often fall in clumps and that was the case here.

Wallace picked out long-on off Azharullah, North skied a desperate hack to cover from Steven Crook and Cooke dragged Matt Spriegel’s off-spin to deep midwicket.

Only Nathan McCullum then offered anything with a useful 20 before becoming one of three victims for David Willey in the final over of the innings.

Richard Levi, unluckily run out when Kyle Coetzer’s uppish drive was deflected onto the stumps at the bowler’s end, and the latter, hoisting Michael Hogan to deep square, fell before the chase could get into it’s stride.

The reliable duo of Cameron White and Wakely calmed things down only for the captain to slice an ugly drive to point off Dean Cosker’s left-arm spin.

That wicket came with half the target wiped off and at a stage where another wicket would have made things interesting.

But Crook, who has had a significant impact since his return to the club, joined forces with the prolific Australian to put the visitors back in control, with 15 runs from a Jim Allenby over, the 15th, bringing the equation back to within the realms of a cruise.

White celebrated moving to a measured 50 with a pair of sixes in one McCullum over - he finished unbeaten on 71 - and although Crook picked out midwicket with three to win, it made no difference at all.